JJB boss ‘forgery’ to cover Whelan loan

Former executive chairman of the now defunct JJB Sports Sir David Jones arrives, with his son Stuart, at Leeds Crown Court
Former executive chairman of the now defunct JJB Sports Sir David Jones arrives, with his son Stuart, at Leeds Crown Court

A FORMER chief executive of Wigan retail giant JJB Sports forged a bank statement to disguise a £1.5m loan from Dave Whelan, a court heard.

Sir David Jones – who was chair of the now defunct firm between 2009 and 2010 - is facing fraud charges at Leeds Crown Court.

The loan from JJB founder Mr Whelan was at a time when Sir David was heavily in debt “possibly due to gambling”, jurors have been the told.

Prosecutor Miranda Moore QC said Sir David lied to the JJB board about that loan – plus another of £1.5m from Sport Direct’s Mike Ashley – causing the company to put out false statements to the financial markets.

At the time the company was trying to raise £100m, the court was told.

The forged bank statement was created with the help of Sir David’s son, Stuart, who is also on trial, Ms Moore added.

This, she said, was when newspapers were about to run a story suggesting Mr Whelan had paid £1.5m to Sir David in relation to a deal Mr Whelan had done to take over gyms from JJB.

She said this story was “absolute rubbish” but the board of JJB was concerned about the adverse publicity as they were about to launch their flotation at a time of financial difficulty for the firm.

These concerns were exacerbated when the Daily Telegraph confirmed to the firm’s PR consultants that they had one of Sir David’s bank statements detailing the payment to him from Mr Whelan’s daughter.

In response, the defendant produced the statement, which made no mention of the transaction.

Miss Moore said: “It was a forgery. It was a very good forgery. It fooled absolutely everyone.”

She told the jury of seven women and five men: “Why produce a forgery to con your board of directors, your own advisers, your own PR people?”

She added: “The company needed this flotation. If it hadn’t had the money, the view of the company was that it would have failed by Christmas.”

Sir David, who is credited with turning round the fortunes of Next, joined JJB as a non-executive director in 2007.

The prosecution case against Sir David’s lies in relation to the two loans and how this impacted on official market-sensitive statements made by JJB Sports.

He denies two charges of making a misleading statement and one of using a false instrument, contrary to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

Stuart Jones, 39, of Bingley, West Yorkshire, denies one charge of aiding and abetting his father’s use of a false instrument.